What is osteotomy surgery?

An osteotomy involves cutting and removal (or adding back) of the bone, a procedure that may be performed to relieve pain from osteoarthritis or from injury. Anywhere that two joints come together may cause irritation over time as the cartilage that cushions and protects bones from rubbing together at the joint begins to wear away.

Most commonly, osteotomies are performed to treat the knee, the hip (femoral osteotomy), or to treat bunions on the foot (distal osteotomy or proximal osteotomy).

What to expect from an osteotomy procedure

An orthopaedic surgeon performs an osteotomy by removing pieces of bone that may be causing friction or affecting the way your weight is distributed on the joint. The surgeon may also use excess bone to "wedge" an area that needs additional support. Once the bones of the joint are repositioned, your surgeon will likely use a combination of pins and screws to stabilize the area.

Healing from this procedure takes time and will involve physical therapy and many weeks followed by months of recovery as your bones begin to heal themselves.

In younger people, this procedure may be an alternative to joint replacement. The procedure allows them to get back to daily living while postponing the need for a more intensive joint replacement procedure.

As with all surgeries, there are risks, and recovery depends on the health, stamina and commitment of the individual patient. In general, however, most patients respond well to osteotomy surgery and experience greatly reduced pain along with improved physical function.